Often I tell you about things I mess up with my husband. Today, I want to tell you about something I did right.
The other day I was walking to meet my husband, he was with the kids, I was dropping something off. As I approached him at the car I found him pacing, like an angry bull. He was fuming-- clearly furious with our oldest child, like he was going to explode, maybe throttle her. We all got in the car and he started yelling at her about something selfish and mean she did to her sister. And he made very good points about how selfish she was, but he was also going a bit over the top, in my opinion, it was too much. He got really angry, he generalized and he broke some serious parenting rules. And I went nuts in my head. I know how to listen to the voice in my head. It was defending her, reliving my own childhood trauma of being yelled at. It was also agreeing with him, a few times I found myself saying in my head: “yeah tell her!” because she can really do some obnoxious things. But I kept my mouth shut. And here is the one time I am going to counsel you to keep your mouth shut, too.
When you are co-parenting with someone, it could be your partner, your husband, your wife, your boyfriend, girlfriend or even your parent, you must keep your mouth shut. You cannot take them down in front of the kid. Unless there is some abuse happening; that is different. I am talking about the normal course of parenting, when people make normal parenting mistakes. As the other parent, you know that at that moment there is a long talk you need to have with each other and you need to clear the air between the two of you, but not in front of the kids. And that’s what I did; I kept my mouth shut the whole time in front of the kids.
I kept my mouth shut the whole way home. You know this isn’t like me, but I felt proud even as I was doing it. When we got home, I sat down with my husband and I left my judgment at the door. We could all be in that position, because kids can do some really frustrating things. I knew I’d be beating myself up if I had been in his position, so I just took a step back, and I listened to him. I asked him what it was like for him, if he regretted anything, if she said anything afterwards and how they resolved it. They did resolve the conflict, without me interjecting my angst or ego at all.
I got to say “good job” and really hear what that had been like for him and how he and my daughter had resolved it together. I did not get to be “good cop” to his “bad cop.” I did not get to hold it against him. I did not get to arrogantly and self-righteously feel like the good parent who would have done better, and then hold that card in my back pocket to take out later. I did get to have my husband’s back. I also got to keep my mouth shut and listen and trust him to work it out-- and he did. I am really proud of that. Now, I know that he feels like I have his back, and I know he will have my back. That trust and unity between parental figures is something that is priceless for children and priceless for a marriage.
How are you doing at parenting or grand-parenting your offspring (or others)? Do you find yourself distracted with political or emotional disputes with the other people who parent or care for your children to the detriment of the kids’ actual care and overall security?
I am dedicating my next teleseminar to the topic of parenting since there is still no manual or required course and we are all so clueless no matter how hard we try and how much practice we keep getting. I think you will enjoy an hour of reflection about what your values really are and, of course, how to uphold those values. Let me help you be truer to yourself for the good of your whole family. Remember you can still use the code “JUNE50” for 50% off theParenting by Design (June 20th, 8:30-9:30pm ET) teleseminar.